Dogs Can Cause Injuries on Walks

Leash-related accidents are common
By Karen B. London PhD, December 2017, Updated June 2021

A dog named Daisy lives next door, and my son enjoys taking her out on walks from time to time. On a recent outing, all was going well until Daisy spotted a squirrel and gave chase. My 12-year son is no match for her power or her enthusiasm, but he’s fast and he managed to stay on his feet while running full speed behind her. She would probably have abandoned her chase soon anyway, but alas, she ran through a split-rail wooden fence before that happened, causing my son to collide with it. He was able to stop himself before his whole body slammed into it, but the arm attached to the leash went between the fence rails and got scraped up enough to gross me out.

As anyone who has spent a significant amount of time walking dogs knows, it is not uncommon to find that although dogs are our best friends, physics is the enemy—especially when a leash is involved. Many professional dog trainers have suffered broken fingers when they’ve become entangled in the leash at just the wrong moment. Multiple clients who have come to me for help with reactive dogs have shared stories of dislocated shoulders caused by an out-of-control dog. It’s always surprising to me how many of these incidents involve dogs who are not particularly large or strong.

The ways that leashes can be damaging are endless. People are clotheslined by leashes when they are not even the person walking the dog. Being pulled along the ground by a charging or running dog is far from uncommon, leading to skinned knees and elbows at the very least. And who among us has not, at least once, been jarred by a sudden jerk of the leash, causing a new injury or exacerbating an old one. Skin and bones are not the only human body parts at risk. Injuries to ligaments, cartilage and tendons can happen, too.

Have you suffered a dog walking injury courtesy of the leash?

Photo: Luzelle Cockburn / Unsplash

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life